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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Harvest Festival Means Party Time

We are about half way through the time of year called Fall, Autumn, with Old Man Winter and his best friend, Jack Frost, waiting to pounce on our weary bones. From the time we became ‘civilized’, or more to the point, agricultural, it is the time of harvest, thus festival time, a time to celebrate the fact that we will have bread through winter and spring.

Most of what we celebrate in the good ole USofA has its roots in Europe and dates back to well before Rome became Christian, that is, the time of the Celts. Samhain had two sides to it, a festival celebrating harvest and a festival honoring the dead, or protecting oneself from the dead. That celebration was held on what today would be November 1, the Celts start of the new year.

Never one to pass up a good party, the Church of Rome incorporated Samhain into a festival to honor their saints, and by now, called All Saints Day. Hallowed saints. Thus Hallowed Saints Day Eve, the day before, simply called Halloween, a day not accepted by most retail giants since it tends to interfere with Christmas, still seven weeks or so down the line.

All Saints Day has a second day involved called All Soul’s Day. That way it gets all of us involved. Particularly those many millions in Mexico where they celebrate Dia de Muertos, The Day of the Dead, with boisterous activities including the wearing of masks and costumes, and picnicking at grave-sites.

All of this started because of a good harvest, and celebrations of harvest and honoring the dead take place virtually in every country in some way. Because of seasonal differences, these celebrations are not necessarily on or near October 31 and November 1. In the southern hemisphere, harvest time is closer to the end of April.

So why do kids dress funny, beg candy, and tip over outhouses? Well, there really aren’t very many outhouses tipped these days, but the rest of that goes right back to fun loving Celtic Druids, who wore costumes, burned the harvested fields, and partied hearty. Trick or Treat just came about over these long centuries.

One of the best things about harvest festivities is in the eating of the fresh harvest. Canada’s Thanksgiving celebration takes place in the third week of October, and in the U.S., the celebration is in the fourth week of November. Those living closest to the border take advantage of that.

At our house, there will be children, all grown up now, visiting from the first weekend of November through the last weekend in December, which will give us plenty of opportunity to keep the hearth warm and inviting and cook stove overflowing. Here’s a recipe I found, they call it Grandma’s Corn Pudding, and if you don’t like this, well, gee, too bad ‘cause that’s what we’re serving.

            5 eggs
            1/3 cup butter, melted
            ¼ cup white sugar
            ½ cup milk
            4 tblsp cornstarch
            1 can whole kernel corn (15.25 oz can)
            2 cans cream-style corn (14.75 oz can)

            Preheat oven to 400
            Grease a 2 qt. casserole dish

            In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add melted butter, sugar, and milk. Whisk in cornstarch. Stir in corn and creamed corn, and blend well. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish.
            Bake this little puppy for about an hour, and prepare to defend well if you wish to serve with supper.

Just a little friendly reminder. Once again I’ll be doing the announcing for the World Championship Single Jack Contest during the Nevada Day festivities in Carson City on October 31. I’ve been lucky enough to be associated with this program since the late 1970s, and have announced some amazing contests over the years.

One man, a set of chisel bit steel, and a four pound single jack hammer, and how far can he drill into Sierra Nevada granite in ten minutes? The world record, set in Carson City almost ten years ago, is almost fifteen inches. There are at least four men who have the ability to beat that record that have already signed up for this year’s championships.

Come on down and make noise. Until next time, read good books and stay regular.

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